E-mails and comments welcome from teachers and learners of all ages.  
August 01, 2004
Degrees for sale

This is what you expect to read about only in junk spam:

Cash-strapped British universities are awarding degrees to students who should be failed, in return for lucrative fees, The Observer can reveal.

The 'degrees-for-sale' scandal stretches from the most prestigious institutions to the former polytechnics and includes undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, foreign and home students. In the most extreme case, The Observer has evidence of a professor ordering staff to mark up students at risk of failing in order to keep the money coming in.

Lecturers at institutions across the country, including Oxford, London and Swansea, told The Observer the scandal is undermining academic standards, but they cannot speak publicly for fear of losing their jobs.


So much for my blogging holiday, which is still happening, by the way.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:38 PM
Category: Higher education

"( Lora ) Villarreal holds a Bachelor of Science degree in human resource management from Bellevue University, a Master of Science degree in administration and management from Central Michigan University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in philosophy and management from California Coast University."

"But the Santa Ana school isn't your standard institution of higher education. California oast "does not require formal on-campus attendance or classroom attendance" and its degree programs "have not been designed to meet any particular local, state, or national licensing or credentialing laws," according to a 2003-04 school catalog. In fact, the for-profit California Coast charges a flat fee for particular degrees (Ianni's 1998 doctorate would have set her back about $4000). According to its web site, California Coast no longer confers Ph.D.s, though a master's is priced at a reasonable $3975 ($4525 for non-U.S. residents). Prospective students are often recruited via advertisements placed in in-flight magazines.

In a May 11 report entitled "Diploma Mills," the U.S. General Accounting Office disclosed how hundreds of federal employees--including some with senior-level posts--had obtained degrees from unaccredited outfits like California Coast. The GAO
investigations, conducted at the request of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, noted that, in some instances, advanced degrees were obtained in an effort to secure promotions. When TSG called California Coast to ask about the harsh GAO assessment, we were directed to Dr. Murl Tucker, vice president of academic affairs. Alas, Dr. Tucker did not return phone messages--perhaps he was tied up with commencement festivities."

'These mills are described by GAO as nontraditional, unaccredited, postsecondary schools that offer degrees for a relatively flat fee, promote the award of academic credits based on life experience, and do not require any classroom instruction. Kennedy-Western University, California Coast University, and Pacific Western University are examples cited by GAO.

During a workshop this month, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation plans to discuss ways of identifying and discouraging degree mills and accreditation mills that are operating nationally and internationally. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which accredits college engineering programs, is also keeping a watchful eye on the issue.

"We are concerned about diploma mills in the sense that it's the opposite of our business," says Dan Hodge, director of accreditation at ABET. "Our business is to assure quality in the programs that we accredit so that the general public, employers, government agencies, state registration boards can be confident that a graduate of one of our accredited programs has a reasonable background. So we are concerned about those constituencies, employers, the public, and particularly students who don't understand the difference and may be duped by such programs."'

"Further, the GAO found more than 463 total government employees enrolled in courses at diploma mills. Most of those courses are at three universities: Kennedy-Western, California Coast and Pacific Western."

Comment by: Bob on September 12, 2004 12:51 AM
Post a comment